LINCOLN, Neb. — The stakes were not as high and the weather not as cold, but this Oklahoma-Nebraska game came down to the same thing as those celebrated showdowns of yesteryear.
A few precious plays. And on an Indian summer Saturday night, the Sooners whiffed. Nebraska beat OU 10-3 and made the Sooners look bad in the process. The Sooners were touchdown-less for the first time in the Bob Stoops era. Suddenly, Andre Ware, predictor of a four-loss Sooner season, looks a little shaky. He might be low as the 5-4 Sooners have matched the ’05 Sooners for most defeats under Stoops. The offensive progress made since Sam Bradford’s demise went splat. OU looked confused at times, overmatched at others. The stat sheet showed 23 first downs for the Sooners. It seemed like half that many. Nebraska’s defense is world-class, but so is Texas’, and the Sooners performed much better in the Cotton Bowl cauldron than they did in the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium. Yet another injury to an impact player, guard Brody Eldridge, didn’t help. But the Sooners also dropped passes, threw bad passes — Landry Jones looked more like raw rookie than future star in throwing a school record five interceptions — and committed maddening penalties. OU’s spent most of the game in Nebraska territory but crossed the Husker 20-yard line only once. Speaking of elite defenses, OU’s was dominant again, just like at Texas, but the Sooners wasted stand after stand and fell to 5-4, putting themselves on the road to San Diego or San Antonio or bowl destinations of even lesser clout. This game in reality came down to two plays, both in the first half: an interception tossed by Jones and a fourth-down failure from the Husker 20-yard line.